Age: 4 months. Or thereabouts.
Previously: It didn’t exist – it’s a new-build. But there was a longstanding car wash on that stretch before.
Where exactly is it? On York Way, adjacent to the new Hub by Premier Inn, and what’s surely the biggest ever branch of Franco Manca. And perhaps – eek – the most soulless.
So what goes on there? It’s the fifth branch of this South East Asia-inspired mini-chain. A tribute to hawker stalls and comfort-food spots, it serves soup noodles, curries, stir-fries and other dishes from Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The good news is it’s relatively cheap, in a mid-market way, with starters about a fiver and mains around ten.
What should I eat? We shared two small plates of dumplings to start. The long bao option, steamed and soup-filled (handy spoon provided for the explosion of liquid) with minced pork and prawn in light wheat pastry, were far tastier than the more rigid sui mai with chicken. Meanwhile, a pad thai was a decent mound of flat rice noodles festooned with egg, chives, beansprouts and juicy prawns. Crushed peanuts and chilli flakes were on hand to add crunch and fire, and a lime wedge for the all-important squirt of acidity. In short? Nothing dazzled, but it was competent Asian food served efficiently.
The interior: Discuss. We liked it. Lantern-style pendants gave out a warm orange glow hang over simple wooden tables with bright murals on each of the walls. And an open kitchen occupies much of one wall, where chefs move with precision. The big windows overlook the busy-ness of York Way: it was torrential rain on our visit – maximum smugness guaranteed.
And what do I drink? We sunk a glass of sauvignon – at around a fiver. But there are Asian beers, as well as cans of Four Pure, and healthy juices if that’s your thing. Plus green and jasmine teas, Thai-style chai, and even Thai coffee.
What’s the service like? Nice, swift and smiley.
Do say: “This is a useful go-to.”
Don’t say: “Where’s the Cally Road?”